Dear Vicki, How do I know what type of ham­ster I have? What are the be­hav­iour traits of each type? There are many dif­fer­ent breeds of ham­ster but the most com­mon in­clude Syr­ian, Dwarf Rus­sian and Roborovski. Syr­ian ham­sters are the largest breed and the most pop­u­lar as pets. They must be kept alone but can be­come quite tame and en­joy the com­pany of their own­ers. The re­main­ing two breeds are much smaller and can be kept in same-sex small groups or pairs. They are gen­er­ally more dif­fi­cult to han­dle due to their small size and abil­ity to move very quickly. Dear Vicki, I have a 10-year old Col­lie-Spaniel cross, Maya, who has al­ways been very friendly. Re­cently she has started growl­ing at my part­ner and at young chil­dren in the park, al­though she never does this with me. I’m con­cerned about her be­hav­iour, could this be due to her age? In the short-term you should use a bas­ket muz­zle as a pre­cau­tion when you take Maya for walks in pub­lic and never leave her un­su­per­vised with young chil­dren. Some­times ag­gres­sion can be­gin later in life due to an un­der­ly­ing med­i­cal con­di­tion. Pain can also cause changes in be­hav­iour. You should take her to your vet as soon as pos­si­ble to check there are no health is­sues caus­ing this be­hav­iour. If Maya gets a clean bill of health, your vet can ad­vise you on how to ad­dress her be­hav­iour, which may in­volve re­fer­ring you to an ac­cred­ited pet be­haviourist. For an in­tro­duc­tion to be­hav­iour prob­lems in dogs, you can down­load PDSA’s free be­hav­iour leaflet at leaflets.

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